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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The “Absolutely not” patriots vs the “Absolutely Yes” in Pakistan

Today those attending the mass protests with shouts of “no imported government” are not only protesting America’s hand in removing Khan but also at placing in the power a Prime Minister charged with corruption and money laundering and a cabinet with more than half of its members facing criminal charges.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell

Following the ouster of American forces from Afghanistan the importance of Pakistan for the US’s hybrid war against Russia and China was highlighted by a joint letter from heads of twenty-two diplomatic missions urging Pakistan to support a UN resolution to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Imran Khan’s rebuttal “are we your slaves…that whatever you say, we will do?” was applauded by the Global South and countries suffering from a system of continued neo-colonialism. His remarks were also a reflection of the emerging forms of multi-polar alliances led by China and Russia as opposed to the US’s failing hegemonic Uni-polar agenda.

Read more: Pakistan Politics: Race to the bottom

Understanding the matter better

Khans ‘independent foreign policy was going against US advice and set an unprecedented example to South Asian countries usually subordinate to US dictates. Against US disproval he attended the Beijing Olympics and discussed closer bilateral economic cooperation. He worked with Russia on the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project and negotiated discounted Russian wheat and gas supplies.

The last thing America wanted was a popular ‘patriot following an independent policy, especially at a time when it needed allies against its long-term hybrid war instigated through Ukraine against Russia with the same scenario planned against China using Taiwan.

Therefore, a CIA regime-change operation was vital against Khan’s government, plus the US was aware that it will be an easy task with willing partners in the form of opposition parties and a corrupt judicial and bureaucratic system.

However, US exceptionalism did not include in the bargain that Khan’s independent “we are not slaves” stance had resonated with the general public who have come out in the millions against the newly installed government. Many are aware that Pakistan is standing on a dangerous precipice of either reverting back to an era where corrupt elites subordinate to western dictates ensured their enslavement in a cycle of poverty and degradation or going forward to a better future for its children under Khan’s leadership.

Read more: Senate Elections – Welcome to Pakistan Politics!

The country has never seen such massive protest movements in its history

As Malcolm X once stated, “becoming conscience is linked to mobilization and organisation.”  This “becoming conscience” should be partly attributed to Khan and his decade-old campaign against corruption by the dynastic elite two party system the PPP and PML whose leaders have siphoned billions of public wealth into foreign properties and accounts.

Whatever opinion one may have of Khan one fact is clear it was his incessant campaign against corruption that woke up the Pakistani public, who were already aware that the system was corrupt. But it was Khan who meticulously detailed through which personal and state mechanisms the country’s coffers were “looted” and set a new precedent of going after the culprits. The task of convicting them had always been difficult since their money had bought them ‘supporters’ in every sphere from the justice system, media, government bodies and the army.

Today those attending the mass protests with shouts of “no imported government” are not only protesting America’s hand in removing Khan but also at placing in power of a Prime Minister charged with corruption and money laundering and a cabinet with more than half of its members facing criminal charges. According to reports from Pakistan most media have been side-lined and ‘paid’ to give positive reports and not mention the convicted members past records.

It is perfectly legitimate for the nation to be worried that Pakistan will regress back to the old days where corruption led to further poverty. Where twenty-five million children did not go to school and according to a National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) 2013-14 report 11, 096 government schools did not have building structures with students sitting on floors.

It is natural that this outburst of anger is seething in the streets, where Pakistani children were paying a price of a better future while the rich elites enjoyed a luxurious decadent lifestyle. In the intense summer heat mothers interviewed at these Jalsas spoke about the reason why they came out, nearly all stating “Khan Saab is not corrupt and will offer our children a chance for a better future.”

What is also more baffling for international observers well acquainted with the US’s long history of CIA regime-change operations around the world, is that opposition parties and the pro-US lobby in Pakistan are still refuting Khan’s claim that the US removed him.

Read more: Secret of prosperity of dynastic politics in Pakistan

Even though a letter sent by a US diplomat was produced as evidence, the army and justice system are adamant there was no US interference; with Pakistanis working for Washington’s think tank the Hudson Institute like Hussain Haqqani arguing that Khan is “using the name of Allah and Islam to garner support. And he is invoking the specter of threat from America,”.

One needs to ask him did he see the “spectre of threat” of America detailed in the 91,000 war logs in the Afghan War Diary (2010) where US led coalition forces killed and raped Afghan women and children indiscriminately, where NATO death squads terrorised locals through killing sprees, later covering up their crimes. And when US forces finally withdrew from the country it had originally gone to develop and “democratize” it left it one of the most underdeveloped poorest countries in the world.

As Peter Koenig, a geopolitical analyst in ‘Afghanistan: A New Pivot in the Greater Middle East’ summarised the US left the country in the same mess it left Iraq and Syria, because “instability” ensures “a country remains weak.”Pointing out the same is planned for Afghanistan as “Washington knows that Afghanistan offers perfect transit routes for the Belt and Road Initiative, which we know, the US despises.” 

Raising the question what does it plan for Pakistan and does the Pro-US crowd care?

What is the way forward?

There are already signs that China Pakistan relations are being targeted through the Baloch Liberation Army, which according to reports has US support, after BLA stepped up their attacks, recently killing three Chinese working in Pakistan. Another plot was also thwarted in southwest Baluchistan where Pakistan police arrested an armed female suicide bomber who confessed her plan to kill Chinese nationals working on Belt and Road Initiative projects.

There are also signs that Khan’s “absolutely not” stance on US bases in Pakistan may soon become a reality by the “absolutely yes” group in power with indications that discussions are in progress with the US and the Army. Pakistan’s new government is also it appears distancing itself from Russia according to US dictates, and the deal for discounted wheat and gas supplies that Khan was negotiating to benefit Pakistan.

Read more: Behind the façade in Pakistan’s politics

As much as it may pain Pakistanis to hear this, India, unlike Prime Minister Sharif’s government is not buckling to US pressure and maintaining an independent foreign policy. Prime Minister Modi may be polarising his country internally through Hindu supremacist policies but has enough acumen to know what will benefit India where its foreign policy is concerned. He has refused to condemn Russia and gone against US advice to not restrict the export of wheat after India announced that it will be restricting wheat exports to safeguard domestic food security.

According to geopolitical analyst Andrew Korbyko, India chooses to feed its own people while Washington “wants countless Indians to potentially starve to death in order to feed America’s vassal states across the Global South whose governments it hopes to uphold for political reasons.” He argues “No genuinely patriotic individual anywhere in the world can support a foreign country that wants their own people to die in order to serve its interests.”This is an important question for millions of Pakistanis to pose to the newly installed Pakistan government as the demand for fresh elections without foreign interference grows.


The writer is a journalist based in London. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.